Kettlebell Exercises for Seniors


Kettlebells provide a good workout for people of any age, including seniors, who may do kettlebell routines two to three times each week as part of their overall strength training program. Seniors can benefit from strength training because it increases muscle mass, improves bone health and works the cardiovascular system. Kettlebell exercises will improve their range of motion.

Kettlebells are different than other free weights, such as dumbbells, because they generate momentum when you move them in an exercise. The handle of the kettlebell moves the weight away from your hand. When you swing a kettlebell, you increase rotation inertia, which makes your muscles respond by working to control the direction and speed of the swing. In this way, kettlebells work your muscles in a way that is similar to everyday activities and thus serve as functional strength training tools. Kettlebell exercises take your limbs through the full range of motion as you swing, clean and lift the weights.

You should start with an easy workout using light-weight kettlebells until you build up your strength and endurance. Warm up first by doing some light cardio, such as brisk walking or jumping rope, and then move on to some stretches to prepare your muscles and joints for a vigorous workout. Start by doing three to five repetitions of the modified Turkish get-up exercise by lying flat on the floor and holding the weight in your right hand. With your right arm fully extended over your shoulder and right knee bent, lift up onto your left elbow while keeping your eyes on the kettlebell. Slowly return to the start position and repeat while holding the weight in your left hand. Then do five to eight squats while holding a kettlebell in each hand. Finish your easy workout by doing 10 repetitions of two-hand kettlebell swings. Repeat the entire workout one to two times and finish with a cool-down and some stretches.

Any exercise you can do using a dumbbell, you can do with a kettlebell. Biceps curls with a kettlebell engage all of the stabilizing muscles in your arms because when you hold the handle, the weight is off-center on the outside of your arm. Hammer curls and rows will work your shoulders as well as your arms. Chest presses with kettlebells work your entire upper body, including your upper back. Incorporate kettlebells in exercises such as lunges and rows.

Some exercises are unique to kettlebells, for example, the swings, which require a little more coordination. Stand with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart. Hold a kettlebell by the handle with both hands and bend slightly forward from the hips while keeping your back straight. With your arms extended, swing the weight up to eye-level and control the downward swing, directing it back between your legs.

According to Scott Iardella, who is a Russian Kettlebell Certified instructor, Level II (RKCII), Certified Kettlebell Functional Movement Specialist (CK-FMS), as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), kettlebells are perfectly safe when you perform the exercises using proper form and are supervised by a qualified kettlebell instructor. See your doctor for a complete check-up before you start any exercise program. If you have existing chronic conditions, such as arthritis, osteoporosis or heart disease, do not do any vigorous exercise, except as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all of your doctor's instructions and do not exceed any limitations she places on your activities. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration. Stop exercising and seek immediate medical attention if you are short of breath, have pain in your chest or arm or feel dizzy or nauseous.

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